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7 smartphone trends to watch this year

Agam Shah | Feb. 5, 2016
Smartphones will play a bigger role in VR, entertainment and computing

Faster graphics

Smartphones are central to home entertainment, and strong graphics are coming to handsets for virtual reality and 4K entertainment. Low-end handsets will support full high-definition video, while high-end devices will be equipped with even faster GPUs from Qualcomm and ARM. Don't expect to see smartphones with chips from Nvidia, which makes the best mobile GPUs but has exited the smartphone market. Smartphones don't have 4K screens yet, so you'll need to hook them up to 4K TVs for streaming video or gaming.

Better screens

Talking of displays, smartphone screens will be more vivid, with resolutions creeping above the 1440-by-2560 pixel displays in top-line handsets today. Analysts at Morgan Stanley also predict that foldable OLED screens will reach handsets in the next two years. At CES, LG showed a flexible OLED screen that could be rolled up.

USB Type-C and other hardware improvements

Both low-cost and high-end phones will migrate to versatile USB Type-C ports for charging. The new ports will also solve the problem of connecting smartphones to monitors and external storage devices. Samsung's pocket-sized SSD T3 drive, which can have as much as 2TB of storage, can be plugged directly into Android handsets.

Faster chips

As always, the new handsets will have faster and more energy-efficient chips. But a new twist in mobile processors is stacked transistors, which allow more features to be packed into smaller chips. This is a big chip-manufacturing advancement that will allow smartphones to do a lot more while preserving battery life. Some smartphones will also have low-power DDR4 memory, which boosts higher application performance through faster internal data transfers.

 

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